Clitheroe residents slam 'unfair' car parking 'havoc' as daytime leisure centre users face £400-a-year-bills
and live on Freeview channel 276
Furthermore, current car park arrangements, plus coaches carrying children and traffic going to sports pitches, are creating havoc along the Edisford Road near the River Ribble, it is claimed.
The complaints were raised at Ribble Valley Council’s latest Community Services Committee, which deals with amenities including car parks, Ribblesdale Pool, sports fields and play grounds.
Gym member Jane Viljoen, who regularly visits Clitheroe’s Roefield leisure centre, called for changes to nearby car parking arrangements. The Roefield leisure centre is run by a charity not the borough council.
She told councillors: “I’m a leisure centre user and I’m asking the council to take action regarding parking arrangements during the day. I go to Roefield five or six times a week to exercise in the morning. People who go there in the daytime have a range of backgrounds. Some have parental responsibilities. Some are retired. Some care for other people. Some are taking a break from caring.
“But we are residents who all pay our council tax. Yet we are expected to pay for car parking during the day while others visiting in the evening are not expected to pay. Attending a 60-minute class means I have to pay for 90 minutes of parking. It costs me £400 a year,
“It also feels morally wrong to have to pay for parking linked to the leisure centre when there is such a big focus on health issues, well-being and obesity in society.
“Also, because of the cost of parking, people instead park on Edisford Road and walk down to the leisure centre. This then creates problems for other cars and tractors.”
She added: “It’s a bizarre situation when Edisford Road is lined with cars and there is a perfectly good car park with hundreds of spaces, standing half-empty because of payment arrangements. In the evenings, the car park is full because it’s free.
“People are already very distrustful of central government with the cost-of-living crisis and other things. Over 700 people have signed a petition about this. People feel really strongly. I feel there is inequality about how car parking is organised across Clitheroe.
“I suggest the council look at other options for Roefield. Perhaps some free time in the day for visitors? Maybe a parking disc system giving a couple of hours for free? Maybe a permit system offering discounted parking or a reimbursement scheme? These could also be shaped around school terms so it doesn’t impact on families visiting the river nearby?
Mrs Viljoen added: “Everybody should be equal. At Holmes Mill in Clitheroe, the car parking arrangement gives people three hours for free with payment for longer periods. ”
A number of councillors expressed some sympathy.
Conservative Coun Ged Mirfin said: “I congratulate Jane on the 700-signature petition – she has obviously taken a few lessons from me.”
He added: “The council has got to strike a balance between maintaining its own viability, being business-like and aware of costs, and being aware of the needs of customers, so they show loyalty going forward.
“If we push up the costs too much, it will impact on people going to Roefield leisure centre and Ribblesdale Pool. We need to keep people going.
“Regarding short stay parking in Clitheroe town centre, that impacts on visitors numbers. If that rises too much, people will visit the town centre less and spend less. ”
Coun Mirfin welcomed other developments such as the new £2 bus fare deal being introduced across the country.
Conservative Coun Jan Alcock said: “I have a lot of sympathy with the lady who spoke. Paying £400 to keep fit is unacceptable. However, free parking is probably not an option. Roefield could perhaps become a long-stay car park? Then people could buy a £90 permit. That would be simpler than re-jigging the ticket machines.”
She mentioned a figure of £19,000 in income from the car park. How would the council recoup that lost income if it made the site free?
Committee chairman Conservative Coun Richard Newmark said there were a number of issues. He also had sympathy with Edisford Road residents, who sometimes faced a ‘nightmare’ with parking and traffic issues.
Regarding alleged parking chaos and dangers along Edisford Road, and sports fields and open areas near the River Ribble, councillors including Lib-Dem Coun Simon O’Rourke said factors included car park arrangements, traffic for sports matches, double-yellow lines and county council-owned land.
Coun Alcock added: “If I was going to do any enforcement, I would start with coaches. The coach operator are teaching children a terrible lesson.”
Mrs Viljoen’s call came as Ribble Valley Council plans ahead for car park fee increases next year. Short one-hour fees will rise at a lower percentage than other payment periods, councillors recommended.
Some councillors also complained about car parking arrangements, including in Longridge.
A working group is to look at the borough’s whole car parking system including fees, operating times and short-stay and long-stay locations.